Call for a re­think on ‘safe route’ to school


AMUM whose hus­band trag­i­cally died in a road ac­ci­dent has made an emo­tional plea to the coun­cil to re­think its safe routes to school pol­icy.

Francesca Whar­ton, who lives in Bolling­ton and has three chil­dren at Tyther­ing­ton School, knows bet­ter than any­one how im­por­tant road safety is.

Her hus­band Guy – a sci­ence teacher at the school – died when he was in a col­li­sion with a car as he rode his bike on the Cat and Fid­dle in June.

Francesca says the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to re­move a free bus ser­vice and ask chil­dren to walk from Bolling­ton to Tyther­ing­ton will re­sult in many young­sters cross­ing the Silk Road, which she be­lieves is too dan­ger­ous.

The coun­cil has de­clared the Mid­dle­wood Way - a bri­dle path which runs from Bolling­ton to Tyther­ing­ton - as a ‘safe route’ for chil­dren to walk to school.

But Francesca fears no mat­ter how safe they make it, many chil­dren will avoid the Mid­dle­wood Way and cross the Silk Road in­stead.

She said: “The most di­rect route for many chil­dren in Bolling­ton is straight down the main road and across the dual car­riage­way where cars are com­ing along at 70mph. It’s re­ally dan­ger­ous, cars are swing­ing around so fast.”

She added: “Just last week another cy­clist [was in an ac­ci­dent] on the round­about on the Silk Road and Guy had an ac­ci­dent there in March - the same round­about the coun­cil is ex­pect­ing our chil­dren to cross at to get to school. I’ve also been told chil­dren un­der 14 have a lower per­cep­tion of speed and dis­tance, which is even more wor­ry­ing.”

Francesca says the safety of the Silk Road should be fac­tored into the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion.

She said: “Kids are go­ing to go the quick­est route they can. The en­trance to the Mid­del­wood Way would mean a lot of chil­dren dou­bling back on them­selves, it dou­bles the time from 35 min­utes to more than an hour, no one is go­ing to do that twice a day.”

A coun­cil spokesman agreed that the route across the Silk Road is not suit­able, but claimed that the Mid­dle­wood Way is the shorter route for chil­dren walk­ing from the cen­tre of the town. He said: “The route across Silk Road, in Bolling­ton has been as­sessed as an ‘un­avail­able’ walk­ing route. It is a shorter route to walk via Mid­dle­wood Way to Tyther­ing­ton School, from Bolling­ton vil­lage cen­tre, than it is from Silk Road.”

He added there are no plans to in­stall cross­ings on the Silk Road.

The cam­paign to save the school bus has been backed by mem­bers of the Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies Scru­tiny Com­mit­tee, who made rec­om­men­da­tions to Cab­i­net to im­prove street light­ing along the Mid­dle­wood Way be­fore scrap­ping the bus. The coun­cil has since in­stalled three CCTV cam­eras along the route as an in­for­ma­tion gath­er­ing ex­er­cise. The coun­cil spokesman said the data is cur­rently be­ing an­a­lysed and will be avail­able shortly be­fore Oc­to­ber 18, when the Cab­i­net will meet to de­cide the fate of the buses. He said: “The data from the cam­eras lo­cated on Mid­dle­wood Way is cur­rently be­ing an­a­lysed and is not yet avail­able to the public.

“It will show how many pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists used the route for the five­day pe­riod start­ing on Septem­ber 12.”

●● Guy Francesca Whar­ton (in­set with hus­band Guy) is wor­ried the ax­ing of school bus ser­vice would re­sult in pupils cross­ing the Silk Road

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